Texas State Representative Rick Miller ended his race for re-election on Tuesday after he received criticism for saying his opponents were running because they’re “Asian,” The Washington Post reports.
Miller, 74, made the comment during an interview with the Houston Chronicle. On Tuesday, he gave a statement to The Texas Tribune apologizing for his comments.
“During a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle I made some statements that were insensitive and inexcusable,” Miller said in a statement to The Texas Tribune. “In trying to make a point about the campaign I used a poor choice of words that are not indicative of my character or heart.”
He added that he would not be seeking re-election.
“I do not want to be a distraction for my party or my constituents, and therefore I have decided not to seek re-election,” he continued.
Miller, a Republican lawmaker, was running for re-election in District 26. The district includes most of Fort Bend county. Around 20% of the population in Fort Bend county is Asian.
Leonard N. Chan, a 35-year-old public-sector policy researcher, and Jacey Jetton, a 36-year-old businessman and former chair of the Fort Bend GOP were challenging Miller for the Republican nomination. Miller told The Houston Chronicle he felt Jetton was running because he thought the GOP would need an Asian to win District 26.
“He’s a Korean. He has decided because, because he is an Asian that my district might need an Asian to win. And that’s kind of racist in my mind, but anyway, that’s not necessary, at least not yet,” Miller said.
Miller said he believed Chan was running for the same reasons.
“I don’t know, I never met the guy. I have no idea who he is. He has not been around Republican channels at all, but he’s an Asian,” Miller said.
Miller’s comments faced harsh criticism. Texas Governor Greg Abbott withdrew his endorsement of Miller before Miller announced he was dropping out of the race.
According to The Texas Tribune, both Chan and Jetton expressed their disappointment with his comments.
“I’ve stood by why I’m running and I’ve never run as an Asian or a Korean or anything other than another conservative Texan wanting to do good for the state,” Jetton said. “I don’t know where he decided to come up with these comments, but it’s unfortunate.”
Chan told The Texas Tribune that he was “caught off guard” by Miller’s comments.
“It’s about qualifications, merit and ideas,” Chan said. “You shouldn’t treat each demographic group as a group to try and capture at the ballot box.”
Chan told The Texas Tribune that Miller called him personally to apologize. He said he believed Miller’s apology to be sincere.
Miller’s comments could hurt the Texas GOP. Democrats have been targeting Miller’s seats since 2018. Miller won the district by 5 points, but the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Beto O’Rourke, won it by 2 points. In light of Miller’s comments, the Texas Democratic Party criticized the Texas GOP.
“Texas Republicans again are showing off their true colors,” said Abhi Rahman, a spokesman for the Texas Democratic Party. “From Dennis Bonnen to Rick Miller to the dirty tricks seen in the leaked Texas GOP playbook, voters are getting a firsthand look at what Texas Republicans look like behind closed doors and out in the open.”
According to The Washington Post, Chan isn’t worried about the impact Miller’s comments will have on the GOP’s performance at the polls. He said that voters will be paying attention to local issues and not race.
“I don’t see it being an issue — unless you’re intentionally trying to alienate that population,” he said. “If you connect with people, race doesn’t matter.”
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